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Blaugust Reflection

Today is the last day of Blaugust. A few days before August began, I had an itch. An itch that needed to be scratched. I wanted to write about games again. Other things that interested me besides books, reviews and writing. I knew I had another blog (this one) and it was the perfect place for the creative outlet that I needed.

My new laptop also arrived around that time. I could develop a new work routine and had to get used to a new keyboard. My laptop is a normal 15,4″ Acer and I used to work on a 10,1″ convertible tablet. The big screen is definitely motivating me to write more. It’s easier to see everything (I’m getting old) and my eyes don’t tire as fast.

The first week I wrote five blogs in one day. I was excited. The discord was filled with activity and ideas started pouring in. Making drafts was the easiest thing to do to keep track of all my post ideas. I could just pick one of my drafts, write it and schedule it for whenever I didn’t have a post ready. This blog used to have memes on specific days, but I stepped away from that for Blaugust. And besides blogging here, I still had the weekly blog on Narratess.

Overall I’ve written a lot, 36 blog posts and I’ve done writing and editing for my fiction as well. I’ve grown my Twitter following, and followers for both blogs. Going forward I’ll still stick my one post on Narratess and I hope to at least post once a week here as well. I want to use the rest of my writing energy to fix my short stories and work on my first draft. I’ll keep reading everyone’s blog which should become more manageable when there aren’t 80 new posts every day.

Thank you everyone for all the beautiful posts, interactions, and help that I’ve received. I hope that I can keep contributing to our amazing blogging community.

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Reading All The Books

In one of my earlier posts I asked for recommendations for books and movies and you’ve given me a ton! I’ve made a list of the twenty books that I’m going to read for this goal. The other books I’ll add to my general to-read list, which I’ll read whenever I find the time and have access to the book.

I only have 28 movies so far (not shows, just movies) so if you have any recommendations beyond these, please let me know. I also know there are a handful of movies that I probably won’t like and maybe a few that I won’t be able to find since they’re old. I’ve also added the years to the movies as a reference point. If I have the wrong movie, do let me know as well, since I wasn’t sure about a few.

I want to thank everyone who’s recommended me books and/or movies. I really appreciate that you took the time to share the books/movies you love. I hope I can help spread that love as well.

Books

  • The Siren by Kiera Cass
  • Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer
  • Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara
  • East by Edith Pattou
  • It by Stephen King
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer
  • Alif The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
  • Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Guernsey Literature and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • The Four by Scott Galloway
  • Weaveworld by Clive Barker
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • We Are Legion by Dennis E. Taylor

Movies

  • 5 to 7 (2014) (already watched this one, liked it very much)
  • Primer (2004)
  • The Guernsey Literature and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997)
  • Pirates (2014)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • A Silent Voice (2016)
  • HAL (2003)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain (2001)
  • Network (1976)
  • Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
  • Moon (2009)
  • Hawk The Slayer (1980)
  • The Sword And The Sorcerer (1982)

Things I Miss In The Sims 4

I’ve been playing The Sims 4 lately and there are a few things that I don’t like. I already expected the dozen expansion packs, stuff packs, thematic packs. They know where to milk the money. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about things that aren’t related to money.

The Design Tool (The Sims 3)

I miss being able to edit outfits and furniture and give them the colours and textures that I want them to have. The customization options were much more expansive and that allowed me to really create my sim and my house. Even the hair colour options are very limited. I used to create my sim with crazy hair colours, mix high lights, low lights and the main colour to create amazing colourful haircuts. That’s something I can’t do any more. It’s harder to match items with each other from other sets as well. There is no guarantee that the colour is the right colour to match with something else. 

Sultans of Bling by Kate. An actual floating house.

Community Mods (The Sims 3)

I remember that I downloaded hundreds of custom made items from the community. The modding community was the best. I could browse for days just to get the right dress, haircut or house. There were some amazing houses. In The Sims 3 the modding community was accessible in game. It was way easier since everything was automatically added to the game. That was a great way to manage all the items. I know that I added several gigabytes to The Sims 2 and it actually took half an hour longer to start the game. I needed to cut down my downloaded assets, but it was hard to see which ones I could

Building lots (The Sims 2)

I have the feeling that there aren’t as much places to build as in the previous games, especially if you haven’t bought any expansion packs. Even the newer areas have limited lots due to all the commercial lots.

I used to have a choice of fifteen or more lots in different sizes. Now my options are limited. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the ‘open world’ feeling that started in The Sims 3 or not, but even these ‘neighbourhoods’ feel small and limited. It doesn’t excite me. I’d either want the system of the old Sims (The Sims 1 and 2) or The Sims 3. This halfway thing isn’t great.

Songs of Desire

Last night I realized that nearly all Disney musical movies have a song of desire in them. These songs appear early in the movie and paint the desires of our hero(in). You know where the protagonist comes from, what they are struggling with and what they desire. The whole movie focuses on trying to attain that desire. And sometimes they figure out that what they truly want is actually something totally different. Or that they should take a different approach in getting it.

It’s a good mechanism for showing character development. It’s also a very easy way. Disney movies are aimed at a young audience, so that makes sense. But it’s something you can learn from when you’re working with stories. It’s important to know early on what’s going on in the protagonist’s life, what their obstacles are and what they want.

I made a quick playlist on Spotify for this collection of Disney songs. I don’t know if I have all of them, but I know most of them are in there. If you think there’s one that needs to be on the list, let me know in the comments below.

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Recipes and Cooking

I have a few cooking goals on my list and I’ve already done some, but there’s one that I still can’t decide on. Cooking and baking have been my hobbies since I was a child. I was nine or ten when I had my first cooking class and even before that, I helped my mom baking cookies or cake. My dad cooks delicious Indonesian dishes. I still have a lot to learn from him, but I’m getting there.

I’ve already made pesto from scratch, twice, and baked cookies for someone. I’ve made a dozen or so new recipes. But I still haven’t found the cookbook to work through.

The idea to cook every recipe in a cookbook is nothing new. I borrowed it from the book/movie Julie & Julia, in which Julie cooks every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook. I liked the movie, especially Meryl Streep as Julia Child, and the book is a little more inspiring to my taste.

It’s not the lack of cookbooks, but I don’t want to commit to something and then quit halfway. Which means that I shouldn’t pick a cookbook with dishes that I don’t eat (anything with fish)that has more than 300 recipes, or needs very specific ingredients. I could at least one whole shelf with cook/baking books and I still can’t decide. I’ll probably go for an Italian cookbook since we both like Italian and some ingredients are easy to substitute.

I’m still on the fence, but I’ll let you know which one I’ve decided on soon. How do you feel about recipes? Should I post them? Or just the journey and the result?

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Activities

In my 101 goals, there are a few activities that aren’t that interesting to talk about, while some others are worth one or more blog posts. I want to share a short summary of a few activities that I’ve done in the past year.

Eat at a new restaurant

I went to Amsterdam recently to meet a friend from Twitter. Since I don’t go to Amsterdam often, I’m kind of a tourist there myself. I tried to look up some nice places to eat. We met up for lunch and it made sense to have the best fries in the city. Vleminckx de Sausmeester was the place to go. I’ve had some delicious fries, but these were really, really good. Crispy and just salty enough. The fries are the only thing they sell, so even with the line the service is quick. Just name the size and the sauce you want. Mayonnaise for me, please.

Van der Linde ice cream was also on my list. My husband told me they have the best ice cream he ever had. He was right. The whipped cream is mixed with the ice cream. It’s rich, creamy, vanilla flavored deliciousness. I had the smallest serving and it was more than enough. I know that I’ll be going there again.

My mom wanted to take me for lunch on my birthday. The restaurants in my town change quickly, so this was the perfect opportunity to eat at a new restaurant. We had lunch at Barista Cafe down town.

The quality of the food didn’t wow me, but I did have my first matcha latte there. I wanted to try something new. It reminded me of the matcha Kitkat, my favourite flavour. But having a liquid version of it might have been too much to go with a full lunch. The lunch was nice, but maybe because of the company, not the food.

Also, the waitress treated me like an idiot. I never had matcha before, so I have no idea how it tastes. She didn’t have to mock me for not knowing if it was sweet or bitter. Just answer the question and giggle with your colleagues in the kitchen.

Visit an aquarium

I love going to aquariums. I like seeing most underwater sea creatures floating around, doing their thing, being pretty. It’s one of the few attractions that I look for when I’m on vacation.

My husband had given me tickets to Sealife Scheveningen and Madurodam as a Christmas present, both located in Scheveningen, one of the prettiest seaside towns in The Netherlands. We went there on a Monday with dreary weather and no national holidays to avoid the family crowd.

Attend a ballet

I went to Sleeping Beauty with my sister in law and mother in law just before Christmas. I really wanted to see Swan Lake, but they didn’t perform it last year. My sister in law said that Sleeping Beauty is also very beautiful. I love Tchaikovsky, so I agreed to go with them. I have no regrets going. It was beautiful. Gorgeous costumes and excellent dancers. I do have to admit that most of the male dancers were better than the females.

Bake cookies for someone

I made cookies for my physical therapist. I have been seeing him for nine years when he sold his business. I made the for his birthday a few months earlier. He was a good one and I’m kind of sad that he won’t be the one torturing anymore since I have something to torture him with as well.

Have a tea party

I wanted to organize a tea party and my mom’s birthday was the perfect occasion for it. I asked my sister and sister in law to join us as a surprise. My mom had no clue that we would be going for a high tea since I invited her to look for new glasses. When my sister and sister in law were there, she was surprised and touched. She never expected it and that made the high tea even more fun. Both sisters are living almost an hour away so we don’t get together often. All of us enjoyed it very much, so I’m think we should do it again next year. Maybe without the surprise.

One Class I Won’t Play

Is probably a tank. It just doesn’t fit my playstyle well. I prefer to play DPS with a healing ability since I play solo a lot. I could go tanky, but that often means that I have a low damage output and just messes up with my gaming vibe. I want the enemy’s HP bar to disappear in seconds.

Oceanmariee of Soul of the Forest blogged about this and it’s an interesting prompt, so I wanted to talk about what classes (or roles) I do play and why I won’t pick tank or melee classes as often. 

Arclight Varus

I used to have a laggy internet connection and was deathly afraid to play anything melee. Especially in League of Legends. I knew that I couldn’t jump into a fight, because that often meant that I was dead before my screen readjusted to real time. It sucked.

Now my internet connection is great and I rarely have lag anymore. I tried melee in multiple games now and I’m still on the fence if I like playing melee at all. It worked for my monk in Diablo 3, but I didn’t like the martial artist class in Blade & Soul. It might because of the game and the combat mechanics, I haven’t thought about that well enough.

Diablo III - The Treasure Realm
Greed: The Baroness of the Treasure Realm. This is bonus level which you can find in a portal left by a treasure goblin.

Even in Guild Wars 2 where each class can wield a multitude of weapons, often both melee and range, I tend to go for range. The bigger, the better. My main, a ranger, does have melee weapons in her bags so I can switch to sword or great sword when I know these will work better against the enemies I’m facing.

Guild Wars 2 Strider's Armor
Naella is wearing the Strider’s Armor, Rox’s Bow and Quiver.

I’m always looking for the most interesting class to play in a new game, where ‘most interesting’ is a class that isn’t be done by everyone else. Warriors, rangers, mages are old. Give me something interesting, something new. Think of a new way to crush demons. Maybe mind control them and have them eat their own brothers and sisters. It’s a nice twist on the classic necromancer. I’d play that.

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Finish 5 Games

I suck at finishing games. Or I play games that you can’t really finish. Right now I’m mostly playing The Sims 4. Guild Wars 2 is my other option. You can’t really finish these games.

So far I’ve only finished one game since starting my goals, Journey. I never thought this would be the first game I’d finish since there are so many others that I wanted to play first. I’ll still play the others, at some point.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is on my list to complete as well. I loved Dragon Age: Origins and skipped Dragon Age II. Why? I don’t know. I might be halfway done with Inquisition, although it’s hard to pinpoint with the open world setting. I’m having fun though. It reminds me much of Origins, but better.

Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten is my third game that I want to finish. It’s a tower defense game with heroes instead of towers. I’m not really following the story (not skipping, but fast forwarding), but it’s nice that there’s more to it than just the general zombie invasion.

The increased difficulty per level is nice as well. I usually start new levels at casual, but there are four difficulties per level in total. And then there are the challenges. I haven’t tried those yet, since my team might not be strong enough. I’d rather level them up a bit more and buy better equipment.

Epistory is the fourth that I want to finish. I already wrote about it this Blaugust, and I haven’t played it since, but I will. I just have to get a little faster with my typing.

Now, my fifth game is still open. I have no idea which game I want to play and that I want to finish. I have a dozen, but I seriously have a problem with my Steam library. It’ll also depends on the mood I’m in.

Guild Wars 2 – Fanfiction

Just after setting my goals, I had an amazing offer. One of my goals was to write fanfiction again. If you’ve been here before you’ll probably have seen some Guild Wars 2 fanfics floating around (you can find them here). A few of my Guild Wars 2 friends decided to do an amazing collaboration between writers and artists for charity, a Wintersday zine.

Zorav is the mastermind behind this project, but she isn’t doing it alone. She’s had the help of wonderful people who coordinated and edited the fanfics to the masterpieces that they are now. She launched the crowfunding campaign to raise funds for the zines and anything beyond the production costs would go to charity. In the two charity events she moderated, $42,000 went to charity.

Taking part in such a zine has been an experience. There were 71 artists and writers who contributed. Each writer collaborated with an artist to tell their story. Amazing pieces were submitted, in both art and writing.

It felt weird to hold a book with my work in it. It isn’t the first time I’ve had my work in print, but this was different. This wasn’t a newspaper, this was something I was passionate about, with amazing art by Eames, in full colour, printed on gorgeous paper.  It was definitely something I’m proud of and I showed it off to anyone who wanted to see it (mostly family and friends who don’t know anything about Guild Wars 2).

The applications for the Wintersday Zine have been closed already, but the crowdfunding has yet to start. So if you’re interested in buying a zine filled with great art and stories, keep your eye out this fall.

RIP Tales of Link

This post is part of the Blaugust Developer Appreciation Week.

Tales of Link, one of my favourite mobile games, was killed this spring (27 March 2018). I started playing just before its first anniversary and stopped a year and a half later. I could’ve played longer, but I felt there wasn’t a point.

When I first saw Tales of Link, the battle mechanism was new to me. Linking symbols wasn’t the new bit, but that you had to try to create a link as long as possible. You could use skills to transforms one symbol to another and if you managed to get nine of the same symbols, a special attack would unlock for the last hero in your link.

Tales of Link had many of the heroes and villains from the ‘Tales of’- franchise. My experience with the franchise was limited to trailers and wishlists. I did, however, buy the collector’s edition of Tales of Xillia 2. It was a fun way to get to know each character through the events and side stories.

The Events

They had several types of events. Some where score based, others just story based with free heroes or weapons to farm.

Free2Play friendly?

I felt that I could do nearly everything without paying a dime. It was hard to get a top score in the score ranking events. But besides that, it was very doable to play without spending real money. The game had enough opportunities to earn/farm gems (the premium currency) for the draws. You usually knew upfront which events were coming and most players saved up enough for the gacha with their favourite heroes.

I got three five star heroes in one pull. Two of them were highly rated.

Getting 5 star heroes wasn’t a problem. Getting the one you wanted or needed for your set up was always a question. But that’s what gachas are about, right? You never know what you’re going to get. I’ve been fortune with a lot of my pulls, but there were times when I only drew 4 star heroes. There was no guarantee of a 5 star hero in the regular gachas. They later added a coupon for a 5 star draw, but only for certain event gachas.

Why I quit

I loved this game. The heroes were nice, the drop rates were okay, the battle system required thinking and strategic planning, but it still wasn’t enough. After doing a few dozen scoring based events I noticed how impossible it felt to get to the top. Those events were the only ones that had items to reduce CC on your heroes. They were vital in other events to tackle the hardest levels. Without them it felt nearly impossible to finish it once, let alone farm it in the limited time I had.

When I realised this, I knew I had to accept that I was never going to get any good at it, or quit. I hated the feeling that I never had enough items for max limit break. I really wanted those 5 star event exclusives. I did want to be in the top 500. So I quit.

When I read that Bandai Namco were pulling the plug I felt incredibly sad, but I understood why the game wasn’t popular with whales. Of course there was a small group of players who spend huge amounts of money on premium currency and my guess is that those are the players who were always at the top. But getting there required more than just the right heroes. You needed time to farm as well. There was no way to speed that up, or auto-farm events. You still had to start the battle and confirm your win.

I still miss playing this game and the cute characters. The art was incredible, as is always the case with any Tales Of game. Have you played Tales of Link? Or do you know a game like Tales of Link? Please let me know in the comments.

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Guild Wars 2 Fiction

Miira Lightbringer:
Fried Moa Steak
Quiet Before the Storm

Young Miira:
Tail Tugging Part 1
A Promise Made Part 2
Night Falls Part 3
Grawling Preparations Part 4
Badazar Incarnated Part 5
Graduation Part 6 - Final

Savyrius Belain:
We Meet Again...

Naella Ysangwan:
Dogs and Ogres

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Diablo 3 Battle Tag: Endalia#1709
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